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Long-Time Altadena Residents Donate $1 Million to Expand 3D Printing, Research

The gift creates a dedicated research and development fund that has already yielded positive results in COVID-19 testing and protection efforts

Published on Friday, November 20, 2020 | 7:06 pm
Will and Helen Webster

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego announced today a $1 million gift from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation to create a research and development fund to rapidly expand the Hospital’s investment and use of medical 3D printing solutions to improve care, education and surgical outcomes for children.

Entrepreneur Will Webster Jr. founded Webster Laboratories where he and his team engineered and manufactured heart catheters, among them a device that enabled doctors to diagnose and treat a debilitating congenital heart arrhythmia called Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome. In 1996, his business became part of Johnson & Johnson, and today it continues to operate as Biosense Webster with thousands of employees worldwide. Building on the company’s success, he and his wife, who lived in Altadena their entire marriage, established the Helen and Will Webster Foundation to support educational and health care causes.

“Rich Webster and his family continue their father’s legacy of investing in innovation that changes lives,” said Patrick Frias, MD, president and CEO of Rady Children’s. “This gift will help to accelerate the development of breakthrough 3D medical solutions and life-changing inventions—the impact of this investment to future generations of children can’t be overstated.”

Previously, the Webster Foundation invested $100,000 at Rady Children’s to support the 3D heart modeling program and Dickinson Family Image-Guided Intervention Center. Nearly one in every 100 babies born has a congenital heart defect; approximately 25 percent of those babies require surgery or other procedures before their first birthdays. 3D modeling and 3D printing allows physicians to more effectively plan and evaluate complex surgeries; to broaden patient-family education; and to deepen instruction for faculty, residents and students.

“Rady Children’s has established itself as an institution committed to forward-looking innovations to the greatest benefit of their patients—the nearly 250,000 children it cares for each year,” said Rich Webster, co-president of the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. “The trailblazing, interdisciplinary work taking place in its 3D lab is exactly what my father dedicated his life to inspiring. My family and I are pleased to continue this tradition in his and my mother’s names.”

In recognition of the family’s investment, the 3D research lab has been renamed the Helen and Will Webster Foundation 3D Innovations Lab. Most recently, the lab’s biomedical engineers developed 3D-printed nasal swabs to enable expanded COVID-19 testing, reusable face shields for medical professionals at Rady Children’s that can be disinfected, and splitters for ventilators to maximize usage capacity for patients.

“The investment from the Webster family will change, dramatically, how we plan surgical interventions for some of the sickest children in our care,” said lab director Justin Ryan, PhD. “As a medical community, we are rapidly expanding the use of 3D and emerging additive manufacturing technologies such as virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality to improve how we care for patients. Our lab serves the community by leveraging these incredible technological developments to do something so fundamental, yet revolutionary—enable a doctor or surgeon to see and interact with anatomy prior to ever stepping foot in an operating room. It’s an exciting frontier in pediatric care that is limited only by our imaginations.

“Pioneers like Will Webster helped launch a new era in medical device engineering. We are honored that Rady Children’s lab is now connected to the Webster name and will carry on his spirit of creation.”

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego

Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is a 505-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Rady Children’s is the only health system in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare and is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. In June 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Rady Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in all ten pediatric specialties the magazine surveyed. Rady Children’s is a nonprofit organization that relies on donations to support its mission. For more information, visit

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